Sunday, May 16, 2010

Rick's Barefoot Running Clinic

Yesterday was Barefoot Ricks first barefoot running clinic here in Kansas City. I was so excited when I heard he was doing this. I mean what perfect timing for me since I have just taken the leap to barefootedness.

I arrived at the park where the clinic was taking place and as I drove around I started to look around at all the people and check out their feet. I would pass by groups of people and think; no they have shoes not where I want to be. Then I spotted a few people with sandals and VFF’s and I knew this was the group so I parked and got out of the car. Rick had not arrived yet and more people kept showing up (I guess they all knew us from our now bare feet). We all started to chat and discuss barefoot running. There were a couple of people there that have been barefoot runners for some time now and so us newbie’s started to bombard them with all our questions.

When Rick arrived we moved to a sheltered picnic area to try and stay a little dry. Rick first had us go around and introduce ourselves and give a little running background. In this group there were runners who have been running there entire lives and then runners who have been running for only about a year. Running is the kind of sport where no matter how long you have been doing it; you are part of the running family as soon as you start. As we were talking and telling our stories more people were still showing up. One of the people that showed up was Barefoot Josh. Josh is not only a barefoot runner but a tail nerd also (this is the local trail running group I am always popping in on for their beginner runs and then totally get left in the dust, hey I am slow and even slower on the trails). Josh has been running barefoot on the trails, something I thought was not possible. Josh said he was planning on run two trail races this year barefoot but that he was not going to race them. Trying to race on the trails barefoot would surly leave you with a broken toe or worse. This is why they need a barefoot running division in races now.

After all the introductions Rick and a couple more experienced barefoot runners and they showed us proper form during a short run. I will attempt to describe the proper form here for you. Start by standing with your feet flat on the group underneath your body, and then bend your knees slightly. Now slowly let your body fall forward while moving your feet forward. You want to push your legs using your buttocks. When landing on your feet you want to have a center foot strike. (I thought it should be a ball strike but I was wrong). This helps to absorb the impact when your foot hits the ground.

Now if you are doing it correctly there are a few things that should happen. First you will notice that you are not bouncing up and down like you do when running in shoes. You will also notice that you really feel it in your calves. And you should notice that you are not making much noise.

Once we all learned proper form we had more questions then we went on a group barefoot run. We stared with a half mile loop then we went off into the woods on a muddy trail. I have to say that running in the mud was my favorite. It was so cool to feel it squish in between my toes. Also since I am still new to this my feet start to hurt after a while running and the mud soothed them and made them feel fresh, until I got back on the pavement that is. I ended up running about 2.5 miles before I had to stop. My feet are just not ready for a longer distance yet. I had such a great time and met some awesome people I truly cannot wait to do this again. Rick said that he was going to try and do this once a month till the bad winter weather arrives and I can’t wait till the next one.

Now the bad news, it looks like my stress fracture has not healed. I guess I should have taken more time off from running. After my last run I started to feel that pain in my right shin again. I decided not run for a few days and see how it felt at this barefoot clinic. During the run I did start to hurt again, I know I should have stopped running but I also knew that it meant this was going to be my last run for awhile so I just ignored it and enjoyed my run (bad yes but totally worth it). I will go to the doctor this week and find out how bad it is and how long I have to not run this time. I am really sad about this, I hate not running and now that I have found barefoot running I really just want to keep going. I guess if it is as bad as I think it is I can still continue with some barefoot walking in the hopes of breaking my feet in so that when I finally can run again my feet will be ready.

Note:  All the pictures above were taken by Barefoot Rick, I forgot my camera so I hope it was okay to use these.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Holy Blisters Batman

I was told that blisters are a part of the beginnings of barefoot running, but oh man I had no idea. Running with shoes I would get blisters on every run over 4 miles, so I thought no big deal I am use to blisters. Well let me tell you, the blisters I was getting with my shoes just do not compare to the blisters I am getting without shoes.

Yesterday I ran two whole miles barefoot and it felt great. After about a mile I could feel some hot spots on my feet but just ignored them because it felt so great to just be running. After I finally stopped running and got to my car I realized that my feet hurt worse than usual. I checked my feet out and found a huge blood blister starting on the bottom of my right foot. I then came home and after getting cleaned up started to do some more reading on beginning barefoot running. I found that once again I am pushing too hard to fast. Blisters are normal as my feet get use to feeling the ground again, but blood blisters are from pushing too much.

So here I sit with feet that hurt to walk on them much less run, hoping that they heal up quick so that I can get out there and run some more. However I think for a few weeks I will try and run with and without shoes. You see I really want to run and just going out to do a mile or two is not enough, but my poor feet are not ready for more so the only solution is to throw in some miles with shoes on. I am seriously debating whether or not I should continue to run in my heavy stability shoes or if I should bite the bullet and get a pair of VFF’s. If any of you have an opinion on this I would greatly appreciate your advice.


Monday, May 10, 2010

My First Barefoot Run

After five long weeks of no running I finally broke down and ran on Friday. I was supposed to be resting my leg (because of the stress fracture in my shin) for 6 weeks but just could not hold out any longer. I know I am bad, but the urge to run was just too overwhelming and after all my barefoot walks I really wanted to see how I did with a run.

So Friday morning while sitting at my computer working the overwhelming urge to run came over me and I figured what the heck and ran upstairs and changed. Then I grabbed my doggie and drove to the park in town.

It was not a great day to be running, it was overcast and chilly. A storm was coming in so the wind was gusting pretty well too, but on the drive over none of this mattered the excitement that I was actually going to run took me completely over. When I arrived at the park I found it to be deserted, I guess I was the only one excited to be out in such bad weather today. That was fine by me, I got out of the car stretched a little then hooked Prada (my doggie) up to her leach around my waist and started to run. I had decided on my way over that I would do my first mile with shoes. The only reason I did this was so that I could run more. It will take some time before my feet are ready to run several miles with no shoes and I wanted to get in a couple miles today so I figured the best thing to do was start with shoes. Even though my feet were covered in my old stability running shoes, I did run with the same foot strike I have been practicing for my barefoot runs. This actually made me a little faster which was a surprise since I had not run in 5 long weeks.

The park I ran at is a ½ mile loop so I ran around twice then went back to the car to remove my shoes. Once they were off, I took off again and found that it actually felt good to be bare footed and running. My stride felt good, my feet were landing lightly on the ground and I had a huge smile on my face. After the first loop around I did notice the same hot spots on my feet that I was getting during my walks. This did not discourage me at all instead it just made me feel more confident that my strike was correct (see the different foot strike on the right). During the run I did feel my calves tighten up; I have heard that with the different foot strike that it works the calves differently and they will have to get use to it, so I just kept pushing along.

After my barefoot mile was over I felt that I could have kept going, however since I did have a stress fracture I figured that I should not push and that after five weeks off two miles was a good test run. My shins felt fine the entire run so I am confident that they are healed and plan to continue my running. The only thing that felt bad after this run were my calves, they were pretty sore for a couple of days but like anything new I am sure they will get stronger the more I run.

This Saturday Barefoot Rick is holding a barefoot running clinic here in KC and I plan on attending. He is going to talk about barefoot running and check out your gait if you are interested. After he tells us all he knows and answers all our questions we will do a group barefoot run. I am so excited about this, not only will I get to see how I am doing and ask a ton of questions but I will get to meet some local barefoot runners too. Don’t worry; I will let you all know how it goes and what I learn.


Monday, May 3, 2010

Biking and Barefoot Walking

For the last 4 weeks I have been a good girl and have not gone running. However I am not one to just sit around and feel sorry for myself (okay I did do that for maybe a week) so I decided that since I cannot run I would try and take up biking again. Before I had my daughter, back when I was living in the land of endless summer (Miami, Florida) I would pack up my bike and go to Shark Valley every weekend. Shark Valley is a 15 mile paved loop in the Everglades where many people go for a nice ride and to check out the wildlife. I would usually pack a lunch and a good book and have a little picnic while I was out there too.

Since having my daughter, I have not really been on the bike much. I have taken her out to Shark Valley once before we moved (Had to see it one more time). And then in the last couple weeks I have taken her out on a couple rides with me. I am always nervous when I have her on the bike with me; I tend to ride really slow and am over cautious so it is not really a workout at all. But it has been nice to get back on the bike nonetheless.

Most of my biking in these past few weeks has been at the gym. You see I live in the land of HUGE HILLS. And I am very intimated by these hills, so I decided to ride at the gym. However after several weeks stuck inside at the gym it was time to move outside and give it a try. So yesterday I took off for a 12 mile ride. WOW, those hills really did hurt. I thought I was doing hills on the bike at the gym, well I have to say it did not compare to the real thing. My legs and tushy hurt so bad it was insane. I have never hurt so much after a bike ride in my life. When the ride was finally over and I got off the bike I was walking bowlegged. And then when I got home and had to climb the stairs to take a shower that first step was greeted with a pain wrenched howl as I attempted to ascend those steps. After several hours though the pain started to fade and I decided that the bike in the gym is just not cutting it so I must get out and ride more often. I also am thinking that if I keep this up after I can run again that I will have to invest in an actual road bike in the hopes that it will actually make it easier. We will see.

In addition to the biking I have started barefoot walking in the hopes that it will help my feet adjust faster when I can run. For those of you who thought I was joking in my last post let me assure you that I was not. I really think the barefoot running is my answer to running injury free, and I totally plan to give it a shot. I have been out three times so far each time for a 2 mile walk. I now have blisters on both feet and think that I am well on my way to getting calluses in all the right places. I am also trying to vary the services that I am walking on. I am switching back and forth from asphalt and concrete as those will most likely be the two services that I will be running the most.

My first two mile barefoot walk I took my daughter and she was very concerned that I had lost my shoes. Pretty much the whole two miles she was on the search for mommies shoes. Her excitement when I finally found them back at the car was a little amusing to say the least.

My second walk went really well and I found the concrete surface to be a lot easier on my feet. Although I sill came away with a blister my feet were not sore at all from this walk. The third walk however was back on the asphalt and my feet hurt the whole way this time. I also ended up with blisters on both feet after this one. I am still very optimistic and feel that I will be thankful for these walks once I start running barefoot.

So that is pretty much what I have been up to these past few weeks of not running. I have to say that this time around being injured I have kept the most active and although I truly miss running it has not affected me as bad. I think having the biking and walking to distract and keep me busy has really helped me not feel so sad about not running. I highly recommend starting a good cross training routine when out on an injury; this has helped me really get through this.

What keeps you from going crazy when you are out with an injury?